Galle, Tour of the Fort District

Old Dutch Town Centre

The Fort district, the old Dutch town centre is located on a small peninsula and is separated from the Kaluwella district by the old Dutch Parana Ela Canal and from the Dharmapala Park district (formerly Victoria Park) and the Pettah to the east of the canal on the harbour bay by stretch of grass known as the Esplanade. The Butterfly Bridge dating from Dutch times and the Main Street connect Fort and Pettah with Kaluwella.

The Fort still contains 400 extant colonial buildings. 240 of them are owned by locals 100 are occupied by public authorities and the rest of foreigners who tend to develop them into luxury homes. Due to their World Heritage status there are strict regulations that have to be adhered to when renovating them.

 

New Gate

The fort is entered today by the New Gate constructed by the British in 1873. They also built the Clock Tower. The Moon Bastion on the Esplanade stands on the remains of the Portuguese fort, while the Star Bastion stands on the remains of the St. Antonia fort, also built by the Portuguese.

To the west are the Aeolus , Clipenburg, Neptune on which the signal station once stood and Triton bastion  built in around 1730. On the cliffs known as Vlagge Klipp and Flag rock at the southern tip there were once a further Portuguese bastion and a lighthouse.

 

Government House

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The old government house near the old gate, today the HQ of Walker, Son & Co was once the residence of the Dutch governor of Galle and then the British administrator. The stone plaque above the entrance features a cockerel and the date 1683.

 

Churches

No nothing remains of the Old Dutch church of 1640. The present Dutch church is in Church Street, completed in 1755 was endowed by Gertuda Adriana de Grand in gratitude for having given birth to a daughter after years of childless marriage. The church has 2 fine Baroque gables. The floor inside paved with grave slabs is worth seeing. Opposite the church is a bell tower (1701). Further along the Church Street is an Anglican All Saints Church built in 1871, with epitaphs from British colonial days. Further still are the Arab College and near the seafront the mosque.

In Light House Street is the Methodist Church dating from 1894 while at the intersection of Rampatt Great Modera Baystreet is Sri Sudharmalaya Buddhist temple.

 

Galle National Museum

Tuesday- Saturday 9am to 5pm

Admission Charge

Galle National Museum is located in Church Street near the main gate to the fort. It is housed in an old building dating back to the Dutch period and displays a curious mix of exhibits. It is nonetheless worth a visit. The collection includes traditional wooden masks.

 

Dutch Period Museum

This museum also known as the Historical Mansion is an absolute must for anyone visiting Galle. This museum is jumbled in its collections which consist of all kinds of interesting and curious objects. The museum which was opened in 1992 was founded by a committed gem trader and collector. Over the course of more than 40 years of collecting he acquired everything he could get his hands on; Chinese porcelain recovered from shipwrecks, tiles of Dutch provenance, old typewriters, antique furniture and much more. The building was previously the residence of the Dutch Governor dates back to 1860 and few years ago was carefully restored in part using original Dutch designs.

 

National Maritime Museum

This very worthwhile museum totally destroyed by tsunami reopened in 2010 with Dutch support is located on the ground floor of a former warehouse near the Old Gate. It too has been recently carefully restored; ever since it has provided an interesting overview of the history of seafaring on Sri Lanka and in Galle in particular. The museum was designed with educational criteria in mind and since it has a lot of hands-on exhibits, it is particularly suitable for a visit with children. One of the impressive exhibits is a 43ft whale skeleton mounted on the roof.

 

 

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